The Yin and Yang of it All

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Here’s my second favorite wrap-up post from our 2015 Japan trip. Once I returned, friends and family asked a few questions. The first made me think about my authenticity as a blogger. The other two questions have helped me to further think about my own country.

Did I love Japan?
No. It’s a lovely country. I’ve shown the beautiful hydrangeas in a prior post. And I’ve talked about the food and its freshness. But the country, even when I was in major cities, like Kyoto or Tokyo, were a little too quiet and rule driven for my free-spirited soul. Usually when I land in a city, I feel the energy. Cities, especially over-populated ones, generally have a pulse of their own. There’s a busy-ness that grabs and encapsulates you. But not Tokyo. Sure there were a lot of people and a five story H&M. But it didn’t feel like a big city. Additionally, there was a Stepford Wife feel. It was as if  each person knew his or her place and dare not cross that boundary. Even the Harajuku girls were seemingly confined to one area: Harajuku.

Were the people nice?
Overly-so. I’ve written about the blatant respect and consideration I noticed while there. But after a conversation with my best friend, I quickly learned that the country is just as racist as any society that wishes to remain “pure.” It’s just not always overt. My friend recounted the story of a biracial Miss Japan who represented the country in the Miss Universe pageant. This was a big deal. It was important because she is what they call a hafu. Yep. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Kinda like calling someone a half-breed in America or as my friend pointed out, a nigger. Say it ain’t so! Apparently, the Japanese are pretty serious about keeping their culture, bloodlines, and subsequently, representation, pure.

Have you had culture shock upon return?
Yep. It didn’t take long either. Ironically, the very thing that fueled my dislike, the quiet, is also what I’d grown used to. Our flight to Japan was virtually silent. Even the flight attendants barely spoke above a whisper. Eleven (seemingly Japanese) children were in our immediate area. I didn’t hear one of them. Not one. The flight attendants back home were different. They were louder. WATER? COFFEE? TEA? They seemed to shout as if we were at a baseball game. The screaming children, with parents who refused to say anything also somehow seemed different. Once we made it to LA, we watched a little boy jump up on the tram’s bar and swing from it like a monkey bar. Then in Atlanta, we  witnessed a little girl pour a sugar packet down her throat and announce, “The sugar is all gone, mama!” I’ve been out of the country five times and this is the first time I came back feeling as if America has some work to do. I hate feeling like this. And I almost didn’t write about it because I feared the common response when one suggests America isn’t great. I figured someone would invite me to leave the country.

So, there it is. The unadulterated truth about my visit. I loved traveling to Japan cause it’s helped me view my own country and myself a little differently. I’ve been able to equally weigh the positives and the negatives. Would I visit again? Probably not, unless someone I loved lived there.

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38 thoughts on “The Yin and Yang of it All

  1. I’ve always been fascinated by Japan, even going so far to take Japanese in High School. However I have never visited. Your post put words to my hesitation. I don’t like the idea of their culture’s false kindness. It’s like the southern hospitality of my father’s family. Nice to your face but they’ll stab you in the back. The rigidity also intimidates me. I still long to see the gardens and experience the culture, but I may need to move farther down my own path of self acceptance before I go. Also, my daughter has more sugar packet eating tendencies than would be acceptable on that flight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol don’t let me dissuade you. My husband LOVED it! Like would move there tomorrow if he could. It’s a beautiful country, really. I think it’s worth seeing the culture and beauty. And, I’m not being funny here, they love white people, especially with blue eyes. So quite honestly your experience will be different. Little kids would reach out and rub my daughters’ skin and stare at my hair 😳 I say all that to say don’t waste your Japanese language learning lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, my Japanese learning is long gone. High school was awhile ago, you know. That said, as a white person with blue eyes in a family of white people with blue eyes maybe we SHOULD go and be adored. (Yeek, just typing that makes me feel creepy!) Someday we’ll go…maybe. I’ve got other trips higher up on my list, like Australia!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the honesty of this post, and you’re absolutely right.. America definitely has work to do. The greatest of anything continue to work on themselves whether it be athletes or writers, I don’t think countries are excluded from that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe all cultures have Yin and Yang and if we all stay open minded and don’t think ‘our way’ is best, the whole world could be in balance. However I’m a cynical idealist…always hoping, knowing I won’t live long enough to ever see my wish come true 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm…I’ve never heard of a cynical idealist Patty. That’s a new one. I do agree that all cultures have a Yin and Yang. Now, if we could all work on not thinking our way is best…now I understand why you’re a cynical idealist 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this post, I thought I was crazy when I told a friend recently that I really did not like a place because its collective energy (its heart beat) did not resonate with me. I think you have given me an idea for a post, thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, you were brutally honest. I want to visit West Africa really bad. I want to venture to the “house of slaves”, but there are reports of Malaria, Yellow Fever, and other diseases that are rampant via Mosquitoes, Food and water.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the only way I know how to be Eddie! Well, sometimes not so brutally lol. I agree with Afrika. You should go. A lot of times we allow things to limit us and what we might get out of the experience. Even though Japan isn’t my favorite, I came back forever changed and really willing to look at how I can be more personally responsible in my own society.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this perspective. I respect it. My husband traveled to Uganda recently, and he talked about his love of Africa and its people for weeks, but he was happy to get home. They, too, are more consistently respectful, but are flawed like us. I love America, but I think we have many flaws –whether we are willing to accept this truth or not. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I would love to visit Japan. I’d love to weigh up the sense of culture and honour we see in pop-media against actual life there. I’m quite eager to travel internationally because I haven’t had the opportunity yet. I’ll probably start in Europe but Japan is on the list.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It was interesting to read your thoughts about Japan (and I mean “interesting” in the same sense as Keith). 🙂

    I knew that the culture is very polite. But I had no idea that being “pure” is such a big deal in Japan…how depressing.

    Thanks for sharing your observations!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. America can be great without being perfect, and any country where racism remains as ingrained as it is here can use a little reprimand now and then. I get so annoyed with people who are blind to the possibility that improvement is warranted. We’re a country made up of imperfect people, so what do you expect? The greatest quality we could exhibit as individuals and a nation is a willingness to seek greater good in ourselves.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree Belinda! I’ve been torn with how to spread the message that we can be a “free” country, but still take personal responsibility for our actions and also treat one another with respect. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the perspective. It seems as if America has some of the most boisterous people on earth. I’m not sure if that is a plus or a minus. Culture is a very interesting thing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your continued support my dear! Saying you “appreciate my authenticity” is one of the greatest compliments for me. Sending blessings right back to you this weekend.

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